A man who sent a shirtless picture of himself to a ’14-year-old girl’ landed himself in court when it turned out he was messaging an undercover police officer.

Nicholas Wood struck up the online chat with the girl and continued to message her even after he was told of her purported age.

Teesside Crown Court heard how the undercover officer was asked to send sexually explicit pictures to the 30-year-old and they sent an image of a teenage girl with her arms across her chest.

Jenny Haigh, prosecuting, said Wood contacted the girl through the Tagged social media app as well as communicating with her through Snapchat.

She said the defendant was arrested in August 2001 after police were able to trace him as he had used his full name and a headshot of himself on his profile.

Wood, of Nevison Avenue, South Shields, pleaded guilty to attempting to engage in sexual communication with a child.

Sophie Allinson-Howells, mitigating, said the image was never opened as the defendant had come to his senses and decided to block the account.

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She said: “Clearly, this is a serious matter. At the time he was also engaging with adult females and this appears to be an anomaly.

“He now desperately wishes that he closed that conversation down straightaway.”

Judge Howard Crowson branded the defendant’s attempt to elicit the images from the undercover officer as ‘unsophisticated’ after using his full name and headshot to contact the 'girl'.

Wood was sentenced to a 24-month community order with 30 rehabilitation activity requirement days and issued him with a five-year sexual harm prevention order.